Writing is something that I have always been drawn to. Actually, storytelling is something that I've felt a strong desire to perfect and share with anyone who is willing to listen. I believe everyone has a story and it is that story that shapes a person: their thoughts, their actions, their fears, and their greatest moments in life as well as their most appalling failures.
When people ask me what kind of writer I am, I have started saying I am a human interest writer. When I sit down at my computer to write, the goal is to write smart, thought-provoking fiction that starts a conversation and may even make a person a little uncomfortable because they're forced to witness the rawness of humanness.
Speaking of your writing, can you also give us the low-down on your books?
With Missing Girl, my intention was to tell one girl's story; one of the missing whose faces are plastered on storefronts, post offices, bulletin boards, etc. How many times do we walk by these displays and form judgements or dismiss them entirely? We may feel saddened for a short moment, but then we go about our regular lives and never give the missing a second thought.
I chose to write this fictional account of a very real problem separately from 60 Days because I wanted Sophia's story, the main character in the book, to be told and not get lost in the other stories that weave their way through 60 Days.
Missing Girl is a dark and pointed look into what one person's story may be who has ended up in the human trafficking underworld that is actually much more prevalent that we like to believe. It's Sophia's story and it will twist your heart and hopefully invoke you to take action.
The Waiting Room is available in print and digital format on Amazon with print versions also available on Barnes and Noble. Readers interested in Missing Girl can find print and digital copies at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.
60 Days has not been released yet. I am hoping for a late spring release, but I've been saying this since last spring. Hopefully, I'll feel ready to release my book baby into the world very, very soon. But right now I'm still preparing to hand it over to my readers. It's a painful process. LOL!
Small town life (courtesy of The Waiting Room). That is something that I can relate to since I am one of its children. Did you grow up in a small town, or were you inspired by this topic elsewhere?
I grew up in New Melle, Missouri. It is a small farming community about 40 minutes west of St. Louis. Today the area around New Melle has built up and the nearest grocery store is just about 15 minutes down the road (still far by some standards) and there are actual subdivisions not just plots of land with at least 10 acres between you and the next house. :-) But, when I was little my mom and my brother and I had to drive 30 minutes or more to shop at Target, a decent Walmart (is there really such a thing?) and the grocery store. You made a weekly trip and if you forgot something the chances were great you'd have to do without until the next week.
I definitely drew inspiration from my childhood to create the fictional town of Marion in The Waiting Room, but my life wasn't as front and center as the lives of my characters in the book. There are plenty of wide open spaces in the country where you can hide from the scrutiny of gossipy, noisy residents – unless you attended church in New Melle. On Sundays, all bets were off.
I love that you dare to take on the hard subjects, or as you put it the "rawness of humanness." These can be difficult topics to write about. What made you pursue these stories of all others out there? What authors have inspired you along the way?
I write stories that I feel need to be told and sometimes these stories deal with tough issues that most people want to ignore. Missing Girl and 60 Days both tackle human trafficking and I have plans for two novels in the future that will, respectively, deal with domestic violence and racial tensions between the police and the community it serves. I've worked with domestic violence survivors and I want to show how DV affects the whole family and the community. I found myself an unexpected witness to civil protests during the unrest in Ferguson, MO, between August and November. Being in the middle of the action gave me a unique perspective and I would love to write a story from multiple points of view.
I've been inspired by many authors, but the authors that really influenced my writing style and my desire to write about social injustice would be Julia Alvarez, Khaled Hosseini, Jodi Picoult, Rohiton Mistry, Amy Tan. These are just the few that I can think of off the top of my head. But, any author who tackles controversial subjects and creates full-bodied characters that are anything but one dimensional is my kind of writer.
Do you tend to read books along the same line as you write? If so, what have been some of your favorites or ones you find recommending frequently?
I like to read books that educate, entertain, and make me think. I like books that I put down for a moment so I can ponder the sentiment. I am quite a bit of a book snob. I'll admit it. One of my favorite books is A Fine Balance by Rohiton Mistry. This book is so devoid of any hope. I read it three times trying to find hope, but it's absent. However, I always recommend A Fine Balance because it is real and honest and maybe someone will find the hope I cannot see.
On the flipside, I loved The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. This book was so magical and it took me by surprise. Beautiful writing that entrances the reader.
Basically, I read books that are full of characterization and make you think about what really makes us tick as human beings and our connection to each other. It's greater than we can possibly know.
For my readers that want to connect with you, where can they find you?
If you could ask my readers anything, what would you ask them?
What kinds of stories resonate with you? What kind of characters are you drawn to?
Thank you Piper for an AMAZING interview! I had so much fun getting to know you and learning more about your passion for reading and writing.
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